Bishops' Storehouse in Puyallup Provides to Community
by Amaya Fox, awesome student writer from Wilson High School
“A hand up not a hand out.”
That is the mission behind Bishops’ storehouses across the nation; to help families and individuals become self-reliant.
I sat down with Janice Martin, director of public affairs at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Puyallup, so I could gain some insight as to what exactly the storehouse is and how it has such an immense effect on both the church and outside community.
So, what exactly is this storehouse? In a nutshell, “it provides food and personal items for those in need” and to those who “have met with an LDS bishop and received a Bishop’s order”, as explained by Martin. “It is a humanitarian sort of enterprise” she added, “to get people back on their feet by providing temporary assistance.”
“All the items in the storehouse are grown, raised, and packaged by volunteers and it is local vendors who provide the fresh produce and dairy products” Martin goes on to say, another unique aspect about the storehouse.
So, a Bishop’s order – how does an individual or family receive one? Well, someone from The Church is assigned to go to the person’s home and take an assessment, “looking through their pantries, with permission of course, and seeing exactly what it is that the person needs and creating a list that the Bishop must sign and approve.” Creating such a personalized list helps The Church to “ascertain what is needed” as Martin puts it, to provide the most beneficial service to the individuals and families in need.
The Kent facility began operations in 1965, “managed and operated by Church Service Missionaries and long-term volunteers” an aspect Martin felt was important to the values behind the storehouse. Around 40 volunteers are serving within the storehouse — including serving in food making, working, delivery and distribution — regularly, give or take a few here and there.
Not only is there the storehouse thriving and functioning within the Kent facility, but they also run a home storage center, Deseret grain storage, and emergency communications center. The center, as Martin puts it, “helps to insure that [they] have what is needed to provide assistance in case of emergency needs.”
The center “contains amateur radio equipment for use in emergency situations when normal modes of communication may be inoperable” she adds, mentioning how the center was vital in alerting nearby inhabitants of the recent flooding of the Puyallup river. Martin explains that they can ensure that the center is up and running in those type of spontaneous and potentially dangerous situations by participating “in a radio net regularly to test out operations and insure functionality.”
The Kent Bishops’ Storehouse “encourages people to get up and improve their lives” rather than offering up a constant handout to families and individuals. “That is the purpose of this part of the welfare program” Martin explains, “to help those in need become self-reliant” while also keeping them up on their feet.
Serving people with the intent to better their lives both now and in the long run is what makes this program so special. Helping approximately 300 families a month, the facility proves to be a truly humanitarian organization, driven by compassion and hope for all.